ROQUE, Magtangol S.

Magtangol Roque was the beloved kuya of his brother and sisters – the elder brother who supported their studies and gently imposed discipline.  Best of all, he affirmed them in their belief that the principles they shared must be fought for: the struggle for a better life, love of country.

During the demonstrations of pre-martial law days, it was great to have a Kuya Tanggol  to count on.   His younger brother Patnubay[1] remembers phoning him at the office after some of these rallies, to ask for help in being released from police custody.

“He would come to pick me up, saying only that I should take care next time,” narrated Patnubay. “Then he would ask, where do you want me to drop you? And I’d say, Take me to the picket line, kuya. And he’d really bring me there.”[2]

After graduating from the University of the Philippines in the mid-1960s, Tanggol Roque had no trouble finding a series of good jobs as an engineer for multinational corporations.  He was thus able to take care of his siblings in Manila before their parents returned to Luzon from Davao, where they had been making a modest living as hardworking migrants.

Though he had not been an activist in college, Tanggol Roque had embraced radical views himself without his siblings knowing it. Thus it was a big surprise when the Marcos government announced that criminal charges were being filed against their kuya, for his alleged involvement in the communist movement’s attempt to smuggle a shipment of firearms into the country.


Roque evaded arrest by going underground. He eventually found his way back to his native Mindanao, where his natural leadership came to the fore. People remembered a kindhearted man who often smiled and joked, playing tunes on the harmonica he kept in his pocket. But he was also a softspoken disciplinarian who reminded everyone that they were there to serve the people in every way, even in the humble tasks of daily life.

In May 1981 in Davao City, Tanggol Roque was killed by military personnel while aboard his motorbike. He was shot while attempting to warn his comrades about an imminent raid, not knowing that it was already taking place.  He was finally laid to rest in a barrio graveyard in Malolos, Bulacan where his family traced its roots.

BORN                                    :               March 10, 1941 in Digos, Davao

DIED                                      :               June 11, 1981 in Davao City

PARENTS                             :               Alfredo Roque and Liwayway Sayas

SPOUSE  /CHILD               :               Mila Aguilar / 1

EDUCATION                       :               Elementary: Davao Central Elementary School

Secondary: Ateneo de Davao

College: University of the Philippines


[1] Alfredo Roque, who was a writer and community leader in his native Bulacan, gave his children meaningful names: Kalayaan, Patnubay, Lualhati, Tagumpay, Pilipinas.

[2] Interview with Patnubay Roque on April 1, 1987 in Quezon City, by Bing Galang and Carrie Manglinong of  Bantayog Research and Documentation.